At some instance during this pandemic, we have or will experience some form of grief. It is normal to experience grief during or after a traumatic event. A sudden loss of life, a dramatic change in daily routines, or loss of stability in life can result in someone experiencing grief. According to the CDC common reactions to grief includes:
- Shock, disbelief, or denial
- Periods of Sadness
- Loss of sleep and loss of appetite.
Have you experienced any of these reactions in the last months? If you are a dental healthcare professional, have you noticed any of these reactions among your patients or even your coworkers? What about while strolling through social media? I can say yes, I have experienced grief, I have noticed it among my peers and patients, and I am currently having one of the reactions to the grief and sorrow right now. Without revealing too much of my family members’ personal business, I will say that this pandemic has changed my life drastically.
My workweek last week was too much. It was an emotional week for me. It was a week in which I was in contact with too much sorrow and grief from other people. It was a mental roller coaster to be in contact with so many people expressing their grief while I too am experiencing grief. Up until last week, having a patient who had experienced a loss was far apart. Last week, I had one day in which each patient expressed their experience with Covid19 whether it was the sudden loss of a love one, having been sick with the virus or loss of work. Just witnessing their shock, sadness, and distress pulled on my heart and made me angry and sorrowful because not only were these individuals already experiencing disparities, but now they have additional worries on top of existing concerns. So, what is being done to help dental healthcare professionals cope with their grief while trying to help those who are grieving as well?
Dealing with the constant changes in the guidelines and the burnout, working dentistry has been hard. Working in extreme heat, worrying about your safety, and dealing with other people’s grief is a lot to handle any day, but to throw a pandemic in the mix, WE ARE TIRED! Well, I know I am tired and stressed! In dentistry, you may experience the grief of losing a patient from time to time; however, I never expected to encounter grief-stricken patients daily. I wonder how the medical health professionals are handling the grief and sorrow caused by the pandemic. How are they maintaining a certain level of professionalism while dealing with grief themselves? Who is supporting them during this time? I ask these questions because being a dental healthcare professional during this time I am finding it difficult to keep it professional while others dump their sorrow on my shoulders, which are already heavily burdened with my own grief. How are you coping as an individual? How are you coping as a dental healthcare professional?
Many people may experience multiple loses during this pandemic, which can complicate and prolong the grief inhibiting the person’s ability to heal. Everyone’s grief coping skills differ. Here are a few ways to cope with feelings of grief:
- Connect with other people
- Create rituals and memorial for loss loved ones
- Ask others for help
- Acknowledge your losses and feelings of grief
- Create daily or weekly routines that allow connecting with love ones
- Stay in the present and focus on what you can control right now.
The pandemic has placed a heavy load of stress, grief, loss, fear, and anxiety on everyone. Experiencing all these feelings at once can be overwhelming and causing strong emotions develop. If you need immediate help in a crisis, I have listed some helplines for immediate assistance.
To get immediate help in a crisis
- Call 911
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat
- The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructions
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255
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